The West Nile Virus Vaccine protects your horse from an infection with West Nile Virus. This virus affects your horse’s neurologic system (brain and nerves) and can be fatal.
West Nile Virus Vaccine for Horses
There are a few routine vaccines that we recommend for horses. The vaccine for West Nile Virus is a very important vaccine for your horse to receive every year.
West Nile Virus
West Nile Virus is transmitted by mosquitoes. It can infect birds, horses, and people. Horses infected with West Nile Virus usually start showing signs that are nonspecific – fever, lethargy (tired), anorexia (not eating), and depression. These initial signs progress to neurologic signs, and can vary in each horse. Some signs that can be associated with West Nile Virus infection are lameness or other gait abnormalities, abdominal pain, changes in personality, muscle twitching, hyperexcitability, and sometimes aggression.
The disease course of West Nile Virus varies from horse to horse. Some horses show only mild signs and will improve with supportive care over 4-7 days. Other horses have a rapid progression of disease signs, and can become “down” (unable to stand) within just a few days. Horses that are down due to West Nile Virus (or any other cause) have a very poor prognosis. These horses need intensive care, and may not recover. If they do recover, it is after prolonged hospital stays with intensive care.
Because West Nile Virus is transmitted by mosquitoes, we recommend getting your horse’s vaccine boostered every spring. This will help their immunity be at it’s peak when they are most likely to be bitten by mosquitoes. This vaccine can be given at the same time as your horse’s yearly EWT vaccine. We provide a vaccine that will protect against Eastern Equine Encephalitis, Western Encephalitis, West Nile Virus, and tetanus all in one shot.
Other Recommended Vaccines
In addition to the West Nile Virus vaccine, we also strongly recommend that every horse be vaccinated against Eastern Equine Encephalitis, Western Equine Encephalitis, and tetanus (the EWT vaccine). The American Association of Equine Practitioners also recommends a rabies vaccination for every horse. The rabies vaccine is a requirement for any horse participating in 4-H shows in Indiana. If your horse will be traveling, competing, or spending time with other horses, your veterinarian may also recommend a vaccine against influenza and rhinopneumonitis.
Are your horses up to date on their annual examination and vaccines? Getting an annual examination by your veterinarian is another important part of keeping your horse healthy. If you haven’t gotten your horses their spring shots yet, call us to schedule a farm call, or bring your horses in for their annual examination and vaccines.